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Saturday, June 28, 2014

64. Items to Bring to College as a Freshman

High school graduation is upon us (or for some already over). What are some of the things you will need for college as a freshman (or for your son/daughter)? There’s really two lines of thought on this: A) Take the Minimum or B) Be Prepared.

A) Take the Minimum
Some would recommend moving in with minimal possessions until you (or your son/daughter) have a chance to see what roommates bring, what's needed for storage/organization/etc, especially if the parents are close enough that things left behind can be brought on the weekend. If possible, pack like you're (or your son/daughter) going on a long trip where you'll need school supplies.

B) Be Prepared.
See the sample list below. Keep in mind some may be wants while others may actually be needs. I have bolded what I believe are needs. You (or your parents) will have to determine/negotiate that. Your budget may have an impact on these as well.

1. For the Room

a. Comforter/bedspread
b. Pillow
c. Bed linens (ask what size bed you’ll have, bring extra)[/b]
d. Clothes hangers
e. Coffee mug (if you drink coffee)
f. Drinking cups, dishes and silverware for snacks
g. Poster putty (or 3M Command strips) for hanging up decorations/posters
h. Plastic containers with tight lids for storing snacks, detergent, etc.
i. Salt and pepper shakers
j. Headphones (so your music doesn’t bother your roommate or neighbors)
k. MP3 Player/iPod (or if you have a smart phone with decent storage disregard)
l. Cell phone/chargers
m. Power strip approved by the housing office
n. Desk lamp or bed lamp
o. HDTV/Bluray/DVD-Player (there’s usually a common area TV if you don’t bring one)
p. Stereo/IPod Docking Station
q. Fan (for noise & cooling things down)
r. Hair dryer
s. Alarm clock
t. Small refrigerator/microwave (check with college for restrictions)
u. Crates or stacking containers
v. Paper towels, glass cleaner
w. Sewing kit, scissors, safety pins
x. Posters/Wall Art
y. Shoes hanger
z. Ear plugs (In case your roommate snores)
aa. Message board for your door (very useful for communication with roommates)

2. Cleanliness

a. Bathrobe
b. Carrying case for toiletries
c. Shower shoes
d. Towels, washcloths
e. Soap
f. Shampoo
g. Shaving cream and razors
h. Small bucket for carrying shower things
i. Facial tissues
j. Toilet paper (some schools provide it if common bathrooms)
k. Laundry basket/bag
l. Laundry detergent
m. Dryer sheets
n. Dishwashing detergent (if you have a dishwasher)
o. Band-Aids
p. Cold/Flu medicine
q. Aspirin
r. First-aid kit
s. Vacuum Cleaner (Think a small one if your dorm doesn’t offer one if you have carpet)

3. School

a. Computer/laptop
b. Computer carrying case (or just put it in your backpack)
c. Printer (Keep in mind you can print for free in many school computer labs)
d. Ink
e. Printer Paper
f. USB/Thumb Drive (for transferring files)
g. Binders, folders, notebooks
h. Notebook Paper
i. Writing utensils
j. Desk supplies such as scissors, staplers, paper clips, markers, etc)
k. Dictionary (Or use
l. Thesaurus (Or use
m. Backpack
n. Calculator (Or use Smartphone/Ipod)
o. Day-planner (Or use Smartphone/IPod)
p. Index Cards
q. IPAD/Kindle (for buying books digitally)

4. Things also to consider

a. Access to money (i.e. bank account, bank card, credit card, etc. Might want to open an account with a bank that has many branches in your home state/college state. Bank of America, Chase, Compass Bank, Wells Fargo for example might be good options.)
b. Umbrella
c. Key ring (for dorm room/campus mailbox)
d. Flashlight
e. Vitamins (to keep you healthy and away from the doctor)
f. Batteries
g. Flashlight
h. Thank you notes
i. Stamps
j. Snacks for your room
k. Bicycle (save money on gas, car insurance and upkeep)
l. Buy books used on amazon or craiglist. Also, see if you can purchase books used from upper classmen.
m. With social media (Facebook, MySpace, etc.) consider contacting your potential roommate to discuss things in advance. Also, there are often times Facebook groups for incoming classes. Consider joining to get to know your classmates.
o. A tool kit and duct tape. Often needed in dorm room or apartment settings.

5. Things to talk to roommate about. Don't double up on these!

a. HDTV (unless you’d like 2 or 3 units – play video games while watching a movie? Lol)
b. Blu-ray/DVD player
c. Iron
d. An ironing board, if needed
e. Chair(s), bean bag(s)
f. Microwave
g. Mini-Fridge
h. Video game systems

Anything else to add to this list? Your thoughts on Wants Vs Needs? Leave a comment!


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Monday, June 9, 2014

63. How to Deal with Debt Collectors

So you’ve come to the point that you cannot pay your debt. You woke up to the realization this has to be dealt with. The mountain seems to high to climb. Well, there is still hope.

Disclaimer: In no way is this legal counsel. Just some suggestions from what I've learned. Consult a lawyer and/or CPA for accuracy relating to the information below.

Sure you can negotiate the balances with your credit card companies as typically this kind of debt is unsecured. Important to note it will likely kill your credit score though.

I wouldn't go with a debt consolidation company but as you say "do it yourself" by negotiating directly with the credit card companies after getting some education on the "how to" of the matter.

Call them and ask to speak to an account manager or someone who can negotiate the cost of your debt. You may be able to pay 50 cents or less on the dollar owed. Remember to always be polite on the phone or in any correspondence. 

Whatever happens or is negotiated needs to be in writing.

DON'T GIVE THEM ACCESS TO YOUR BANK ACCOUNT. Pay with a cashier’s check or certified check. Keep your copies of the receipts.

If you tell the credit card company(s) you want to settle your debt they will probably freeze your credit card account. You might just want to close the credit cards accounts by calling them and if you do close the account ask them to send you written notification the accounts are closed.

If a portion of your debt is negotiated and forgiven it will likely be reported to the IRS via a 1099-C form. For example, a $2,000 payment to settle a $4,500 credit card bill -- you'll likely have to pay tax on an additional $2,500 in income next year.

Obviously seeking legal council is best as I suggested above... However, the Federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (or Wiki also explains the Act) is a law that outlines consumer rights and puts restrictions on creditor calls.

Here’s some information on the act:

1. No harassing calls can be made.
2. Calls must be between 8 a.m. and 9 p.m.
3. Repeated calling and name-calling are prohibited.
4. If a collector is harassing you, put him on notice that you are taping the calls to ensure that he follows the act’s stipulations.
5. You can stop unwanted collector calls at your workplace by sending a certified letter (return receipt requested) to the collector in question. Just ask them to stop.
6. You are even allowed to send a cease-and-desist letter requesting that they no longer contact you in any way except to inform you of legal proceedings. Use this only in extreme circumstances.
7. No collector may garnish wages or attach bank accounts without first suing and winning. (I believe the only exception is federal student loans that are in default.)

Legally speaking I believe you do have to make some kind of monthly payment to the creditor.

Realize it's likely going to be a long negotiation process. They credit card collectors going to be mean, rude, and down-right nasty at times. They will try to prey on your emotions. They will use anger, fear, hate, and even attempt friendship. They will try to bluff you and play on your ignorance. So educate yourself!

If you feel the conversation is becoming too emotional politely end the conversation and ask them to call you back when they are willing to treat you with respect. Talk to them once every two weeks. You will have to stick with your guns.

Hope this helps. Best wishes!


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Thursday, June 5, 2014

62. What is the best month to buy a car in the U.S.?

Typically, it’s a good idea to purchase a vehicle towards the end of the month and end of the year. New models come out around August or September. So if you’re interested in buying last year’s model and getting a deal perhaps a good time of the year to shop is October and November.

A rainy or cold day at the end of the month is also a good opportunity to negotiate a vehicle purchase. Fewer customers at the dealership is a greater opportunity for the buyer. When it’s warm and the weather is nice people tend to get out more. Weekends are typically busier for dealerships so consider going during the week.

Just as important as when to buy a car is the knowledge of the value of the car one is interested in. Research the vehicle you’d like to purchase beforehand. Consider also looking up the Kelly Blue Book value of the vehicle.
Important to consider too is the old adage “cash is king.” Consider saving up and paying cash for a vehicle instead of getting a monthly car payment. This will free up your income for other interests and/or needs.

If you do have to finance a vehicle remember that your credit score is important. Also important is your income, the length of employment at your current job, and the length of time you’ve lived at your current residence. If you do have good credit it is often possible to get 0% interest on loans.

If you have a trade-in consider selling the vehicle to a 3rd party and not the dealership. If you do sell your current vehicle to the dealership realize you’re going to get less money but also it will be less of a hassle.

What do you think? Leave a comment!


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